Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the ugliest of them all?
I have written about this subject before, probably several times in various ways, but I will bore you all again anyway because, well, it’s my blog and I can do what I want 😉
So, I was thinking about mirrors again this morning, they are kind of hard to avoid and a fairly necessary part of my getting ready in the morning process.
The good ol’ mirror is an object I have had a very strained relationship with over the years for a variety of reasons including depression, dissociation, depersonalisation, that eating disorder and the related body dysmorphia, changes due to cancer, but in many ways we have reached a level of understanding with each other now that is the best its ever been.
The thing is, the mirror is reflective of so much more than just an external image, in fact I have always maintained that it is a far more accurate representation of your current mindset than your physical body. Perhaps that isn’t true for everybody, but as someone who rarely see’s what she is expecting to see let alone what she is hoping for I have slowly gotten used to the different ‘me’s’ that stare back from that alternate universe made of glass and if I’m honest, I still partly expect them to suddenly poke their tongues out and laugh at me like a kids cartoon!
Of the very few memories of my childhood that haven’t been lifted from photo albums or repeatedly told stories, I do recall sitting alone on the white shag-pile carpet in front of a long mirror in my hallway as a young child cursing my reflection and crying as I pinched at the fat bits of my body wanting to get a knife out and slice them off. I would have been about 7 years old, that’s pretty fucked up.
Somehow recently I’ve grown to accept the figure that stares back at me, which is weird when you consider I look the worst I ever would have physically. But despite the thinning patchy hair, the long, thick zipper scar that runs from my sternum to my pubic bone, despite the ileostomy bag that hangs from my belly. Heck, I don’t even have a belly button anymore… Despite it all, I’m oddly proud of my “ugly” scars, both the ones from cancer and the ones left from mental illness.
They all prove the bodies amazing ability to overcome and heal from something difficult. I’m missing a great deal of internal organs, but still this body functions, still it keeps me going, keeps me alive.
Maybe the fact that all my bones are pretty prominent helps detract from the rest of it, that bones = good Anorexia mindset is difficult to shake no matter how bullshit you know it is. But mostly I think it’s because I no longer fear or hate myself or the other consciousnesses inside my body, I respect them and their emotional challenges just as I respect the physical challenges and changes of our outside appearance. I don’t freak out when my reflection shows me something I wasn’t expecting, instead I take a breath and accept it as part of my unique and authentic self, somehow that makes the reflection okay, perhaps even beautiful.